FOREST CITY — Rutherford Early College High School (REaCH) was honored this week for once again reaching an achievement few schools ever do. REaCH’s Class of 2021 graduated 100% of its students.
This is the 11th consecutive year the school has accomplished the feat. A part of Rutherford County Schools (RCS), REaCH is a partnership between the public school system and Isothermal Community College (ICC). Located on the campus of ICC in Spindale, REaCH students take classes from high school as well as college instructors. Most graduate with a high school diploma and have college credit as well.
REaCH was honored by the Rutherford County Board of Education Tuesday evening.
RCS Superintendent David Sutton noted that State Superintendent Catherine Truitt sent a letter of congratulations for REaCH “achieving commendable graduation results with the Class of 2021, who achieved a 100% four-year cohort graduation rate last year.”
Sutton and the board members congratulated Principal Jeremiah McCluney, who was at the meeting along with Angel Ledbetter, a history teacher representing the REaCH faculty.
REaCH has approximately 190 students in grades nine through 12. McCluney says the school’s family-oriented culture is a primary contributor to the school’s success.
“Our kids want to be here...and we want them to be here,” McCluney said. “Obviously we’re a school, but we’re also a family,” he continued. “We are smaller in size, which our students like. And they get a taste of the college experience, here at ICC.”
McCluney says it has been more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain the relationships, and the school culture, that he says are so important.
“But the staff stepped up,” he said. “They certainly rose to the challenge. We want our students to be engaged, and to feel like this is where they belong. We have worked hard to make things as ‘normal’ as possible while keeping everyone safe. We want the students to have an outstanding high school experience.”
McCluney added that he is hopeful that the Class of 2022 will also have a 100% graduation rate.
REaCH was established, and accepted its first students, in fall, 2005.